While many trees and plants go dormant in January, warm, sunny days can entice Southern California gardeners into their backyards where much can be done even in winter, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from recycled green material from more than 50 Southern California communities.
Plant dormant fruit trees: Stop by any nursery and you will see a variety of dormant fruit trees ready for planting. These bare root trees are typically less expensive than those potted in soil. Dormant fruit trees, including apples, cherry, pear and plums, require a certain number of "chill" hours (temperatures less than 45 degrees) to break their winter dormancy and produce healthy crops in summer. Make sure the chill-hour requirements meet the particular micro-climate in your area.
Care for New and Established Rose Bushes: January and February are the best months to plant rose bushes. Like dormant fruit trees, bare root rose bushes are now abundantly available at nurseries. For existing roses, prune no more than one-half of new growth from the previous growing season. Pruning and pinching encourages new growth in early spring.
Plant Vegetables in Winter for Spring Harvest: January is the perfect time to experiment with vegetables not found in typical spring or summer gardens. Vegetables that are planted in fall and winter include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, collards, endive, kale, lettuce, onions, parsnip, peas, spinach and turnips. Year-round vegetables such as artichokes, carrots, beets and radishes can also be planted now.
Get Control Over Weeds: One or two days of rain is all it takes for weeds to sprout. Placing a two to three inch layer of mulch around trees, shrubs and plants prevents weed seeds from germinating. If weeds are already starting to grow, remove as many as you can and then cover the area with mulch. The goal is to prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds so they will not have fuel to grow. A common mistake is not adding enough mulch for the weed-suppression process to be effective. Once taken root, weeds need only a small amount of sunlight to flourish. Organic mulches break down over time, so if you already have mulch in your garden, replenish with an additional one-inch layer.
For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.